San Diego Business Journal

Genomics Pioneer Craig Venter Relinquishing CEO Role at HLI

By Brittany Meiling Wednesday, January 4, 2017
   
J. Craig Venter

J. Craig Venter

Local genomics legend J. Craig Venter is stepping aside from his post as chief executive officer of Human Longevity Inc., turning over the helm to former GE Healthcare executive Cynthia Collins.

Venter, a pioneer of the genomics industry and co-founder of Human Longevity (HLI), will continue serving as executive chairman of the firm’s board of directors, and stay on in a daily role leading the company’s scientific strategy and direction.

Venter is best known for his role in mapping the human genome, and has been named one of the most influential people in the world by Time Magazine. His accomplishments include pioneering new techniques in genetics and genomic research, and heading up Celera Genomics in the Human Genome Project. His prestigious reputation – both in the scientific community and in the private sector – likely contributed to the success HLI has had in raising $290 million in capital. PitchBook has reported HLI’s valuation at $1.89 billion.

Collins will assume the CEO position on Jan. 9, according to a company statement.

Collins’ experience is well-suited to HLI’s goals to expand many of its products from a research stage to a commercial stage.

“Cindy’s combination of innovative business leadership, coupled with commercialization and operations acumen in a variety of life science arenas, is the perfect skill set to bring our vision of high quality, genomic-powered products to the global marketplace,” Venter said in a news release.

Collins comes to HLI from GE Healthcare, where she was CEO and general manager of business units Cell Therapy, Purification and Analysis. Before that, she was CEO of GE’s Clarient Diagnostics Inc.

Collins also has experience as president and CEO of public biopharmaceutical firm Genvec Inc., where she advanced four vaccine products for partnering and received the first approval in the U.S. for a vaccine for Foot and Mouth Disease in cattle, according to HLI.

Before that, Collins worked in various leadership roles at Cellular Analysis Business Group (a Beckman Coulter business), Sequoia Pharmaceuticals, and Clinical Microsensors Inc. (now Genmark).

Collins also has over a decade of experience running large business units in multinational corporations. She spent 17 years at Baxter Healthcare Corp. having arrived there from startup Pandex Laboratories, which was acquired by Baxter. Her career at Baxter culminated in being named president of the oncology business, a global pharmaceutical business she built and led which had $150 million in sales, 900 employees in more than 100 countries, and a $25 million research and development budget, according to HLI.

“I cannot imagine a more perfect union of my combined experience in diagnostics, therapeutics, and life sciences and in leading organizations through multiple phases of their life cycles to create value,” Collins said in a statement. “I believe my capabilities and experience, combined with Dr. Venter’s scientific success and vision, are highly complementary and will create a solid foundation for HLI’s future.”